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Condensed history of pro football in the Boston region

The Patriots have had several name changes

Bay State Patriots helmet design

The City of Boston has had its share of professional football clubs that called this eastern city home. The Patriots were not the first team to call Boston its home base.

Boston Shamrocks

The Boston Shamrocks played from 1936-1937 in the second league that called themselves the American Football League. Fenway Park was the home of the Boston Bears in 1940 in the third American Football League. The Boston Yanks competed in the NFL from 1944-1948. The Washington Redskins were originally the Boston Braves and then the Boston Redskins.

In 1973, the Boston Bulldogs were placed in the World Football League but moved to New York before a single game was played. Plus, the Boston Breakers played one season in the United States Football League in 1986.

Most Patriot fans pulled for the Giants anyway prior to 1960 as that was their “home” team. And it is perfectly okay to have a favorite team in both conferences.

Quite the opposite is true for New England fans. They realize that if not for the Giants their franchise would be known as probably the greatest entity in pro football history. Patriots’ fans are rather bitter when discussing their contests with the Giants.

1960 Boston Patriots helmet

The Patriots were a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) in 1960. They played their home games at Nickerson Field on the campus of Boston University which seated just over 10,000. Their original official name was the “Boston Patriots” and were the final franchise (of eight) placed into the AFL.

Early on the Patriots were annually one of the best teams in the AFL. Eventually they made it to the Championship Game in 1963 and lost to the San Diego Chargers 51-10. After the AFL-NFL merger was announced in 1966 it was a different story as the club won a mere 11 games in the final three seasons. The first year in the NFL (1970) was even worse as the team limped to a 2-12-0 record.

During these years the franchise called four different stadiums their home.

Billy Sullivan, the owner of the Patriots, wanted a new stadium that his club could call their own. Since their inception, the different venues were all old and inefficient. Sullivan not only wanted to build a new stadium but he wanted to build it in downtown Boston. And his efforts began - and ended - with the city council. They refused multiple times to offer public monies to help him build his new venture.

Schaefer Stadium

From 1960 to 1970, the Patriots had called four different stadiums their home. Sullivan wanted a permanent base and become settled.

Sullivan then found the small town of Foxborough just southwest of Boston. They were not only willing to entertain a new stadium being built there, but actually donated some vacant land for the project. Foxborough was also home to the Bay State Raceway, a harness racing track. In the fall of 1970 the 62,000 seat Schaefer Stadium began construction.

With the team technically no longer in Boston, Sullivan wanted to make his team more of a regional appeal and attract fans from all over. Years later his son Pat revealed that his father wanted to make the city council sorry they lost the Patriots by taking “Boston” out of the team’s name.

Sullivan also wanted to break the five-year slump his team had accumulated as a doormat squad. He felt a new name was warranted and in an effort to recognize the area that had offered him assistance, he decided on the “Bay State Patriots.” The club’s board of directors voted and approved the new moniker.

A press conference was prepared and mailed out albeit in envelopes that read “The Bay State Patriots Football Club.” A subsequent press conference was held. There was a problem though: the NFL owners never approved the name change.

Also, on the press release, because the new team name was so lengthy, the heading read, “BS Patriots.” That week a sports headline sported “BS Patriots to Hire Bell” in a reference on their hiring Upton Bell as the new GM. Already the new name appeared to be fuel for other teams and their fans. Nobody wants to have constant jokes made about them. Bell then asked Sullivan if they could change the name to the “New England Patriots.” In the spring of 1971, their board of directors did just that.

And every Jets fan assumed the BS part actually began when Bill Belichick was hired.